I’m going to keep it pretty simple this week. I’d like to check in on category leaders to help figure out who the best specialists might be this season. There’s a lot of value sitting out in the free agent pool just waiting for you to stream it. Adding and rotating through these category specialists applies in roto leagues when you notice individual categories in which you stand to gain a few points. But, this information will probably help the most in head-to-head leagues where you should be swapping out at least a couple players each week (assuming you can) to customize and maximize your stats in a way that nets you the most category wins against your opponent.

“So… you’re just pasting an NBA stat leaders’ page?” Nope. I’m only going to feature players rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues. Italicized players are owned in less than 25%. For shooting percentages, I’m using Basketball Monster’s values that are weighted for volume. Next week, I’ll do sorta the opposite and list the punt specialists (value rankings with each individual category removed), as well as the rankings according to some other helpful stat combinations. I’ll leave out the flukey or injured players to save you some time here, as well.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. At 6′ 3″, 236 pounds, Ali was a physical giant in his era. The average height/weight of a male in 1960 was 5′ 8″, 166 pounds. In the ring, Ali could physically pummel foes into submission like a rhino, yet he was nimble enough to flutter around the opposition and peck them humming bird style. Wait? Why am I making this difficult? He could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. It was the lyrical flow that unlocked the Pantheon, though. He would talk trash, spit rhymes, and back it all up in the process. Depending on your persepective, it was entertainment or a fly buzzing around your head. Joel Embiid could be the modern day Ali. At 7′ 0″, 260 pounds, he is a giant in his era. The average height/weight of a male in 2018 is 5′ 9″, 195 pounds. Thanks McDonald’s. On the court, Embiid can bully down low in the post or Euro step left and spin cycle right on the perimeter, leaving defenders in a tizzy. Like Ali, Embiid has the lyrical flow, both on and off the court. Man, imagine Ali on Twitter! Like Ali, Embiid walks the walk, backs up all the talk, and is the living embodiment of The Process. For all the messing around he does, though, last night was the first time he messed around…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 13 10 0 2 2 4/7 6/20 3/4

….and got a triple-double. Beep. Boop. Bop. I was wondering why I saw the Stocktonator watching old clips of Ali with Ice Cube blaring from the speakers yesterday morning. It liked Embiid a lot.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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There are certain things that cut across all cultures and have the same meaning, irrespective of language differences. When a signficant other says, “We need to talk,” you’re F’d. When a parent addresses you by your full name, you done F’d up. When you hear the opening bars of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, something bad is about to happen. Or someone bad is about to do some very bad things. DRUM DRUM DRUMMOND. Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons was a bad, bad man yesterday:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
23 22 3 3 2 2 0 9/16 5/7

That was Drummond’s fifth 20/20 game of the season and 10th double-dub. He has played 12 games. He is also leading the league in rebounds with 16.6 per game. DRUM DRUM DRUMMOND. Currently, he is the 39th player according to Basketball Monster after finishing as the 22nd player last season. The main reason is the drop in assists (3 vs 1.5). If only he could hit his free throws! Regardless, 19.6 points, 16.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.6 blocks while shooting 56% from the field makes for a bad, bad (as in good, good) player for fantasy. DRUM DRUM DRUMMOND.

Beep. Boop. Bop. I was wondering why the Stocktonator had Beethoven’s 5th Symphony on loop yesterday. It loved Drummond and had him as the #4 player.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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Volcanoes are fascinating objects. They tower into the sky and blot out the horizon. Inside, there is magma that is being pushed up from the Earth’s core that is searching for ways to lather the surface. Now that I think about, they are the Earth’s pimples. Ewww. They are no laughing matter, though, because when they do erupt, the lava flows create a path of destruction and the smoke and plume can erase the sun and prohibit planes from flying. Yet, they can also be vehicles of creation, as many of the Earth’s island masses are formed as a result of the lava flows from volcanoes. Like I said, fascinating. Which brings me to Hassan Whiteside, one of the NBA’s most fascinating players. He’s 7′ 0″, 265 pounds, so he does blot out the horizon on the court for many and pummels the rim with a ferocity unmatched by many. Yet, he’s quick and nimble on his feet to hunt down rebounds and chase blocks. Inside, though, is a swirling mass of unknown, as he can disappear on the offensive end at times. But volcanoes eventually erupt, and that’s exactly what happened with Mt. Whiteside last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
29 20 2 0 9 1 0/1 10/18 9/11

For the season, Whiteside is the 38th player according to Basketball Monster. You’re getting elite rebound and block numbers with above average field goal percentage.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m old enough to remember when # was something located at the bottom right of the phone dial pad. Geez, I’m old. I’m also old enough to remember when Stan was a person’s name. Now? It has a definition in the dictionary: an overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity. Shoutout to Eminem. That’s what you call influence. Anyways, Khloe Kardashian must be a Tristan, right? How about you? No?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
19 16 4 0 1 3 0 9/12 1/3

How about now? Damn Tristan! He played 34 minutes and produced his third double-dub of the season. We all thought Larry Nance Jr. would be the man at center for the Cavaliers, yet he only played 14 minutes last night and has failed to reach the 20 minute mark in each of the past four games. If you need boards, Tristan is your guy. Just don’t expect much else and the free throw shooting is craptastic. I figured there wouldn’t be many other instances to stan for Tristan this season, and I’m an equal opportunity writer, so enjoy being a Tristan for a day.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I often reminisce about the 2011 Oklahoma City Thunder squad: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and…..Cole Aldrich. I kid, I kid. Serge Ibaka aka I-block-a…aka Air Congo….aka Serge Protector was a freaking animal, blocking over 3.7 shots a game and grabbing 7.5 rebounds. Man, that team. One of the greatest video game teams of all time? Anyways, Ibaka was raw from an offensive stand point, but was a maven on the glass and defensive end of the floor. If he could hone his offensive game, we were looking at the next superstar. The athleticism was that profound. Well, he did ascertain an offensive game and extended his range out to beyond the arc. Unfortunately, the rebounds went down and the block numbers cratered to the 1.3 mark set last season. He lost a lot of that dog, as he preferred to just chill on the perimeter and shoot jumpers all night. Well, it looks like Bow Wow made a visit because, so far, Ibaka is grabbing more rebounds (over 7 for the first time since 2014) and the blocks have ticked back up. We will never see the 3.7 level again, but any increase is a good increase. We are not here to talk about the blocks and boards, though. We are here to talk about the scoring Serge Ibaka exhibited last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
34 10 2 2 0 1 1/1 15/17 3/3

A career-high!!! And he wasn’t just camped out outside. He was running in transition and making hard cuts to the basket in the half court. Ferocious dunk after ferocious dunk. Now, he may not start every game, as Jonas Valanciunas will likely go up against bruisers, but he should consistently get around 28 minutes regardless, as Coach Nurse does like play small-ball with Ibaka at the 5. I think a huge change for Ibaka this season is the fewer attempts from downtown. It’s allowed him to shoot a higher percentage from the field and gets him more involved for rebounds, as he’s not just spectating on the perimeter. Don’t ever expect any assists from him, but points, rebounds, and blocks with good percentages are on the menu. Ibaka is currently the #36 player according to Basketball Monster.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I try to reserve the lede for players that had unbelieveable games. It usually works out because one of the superstars is always doing something amazing. Every once in a while, though, an outlier happens which pushes all others to the wayside. Last night, we had one of those events, as the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrated their first win of the season over the Atlanta Hawks. Geez, how bad are the Hawks? Anyways, the Cavs are dead-last in defensive efficiency and near the bottom in offensive pace, assists, efficient field goal percentage, and true shooting percentage. Good times. Looking at the schedule, they play the Hawks once more on December 29th. 2-80!!!

When looking at the stats below, make sure you view them in the proper context: they played the Atlanta Hawks.

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My first introduction to hip hip was The D.O.C. Then came N.W.A., 2Pac, Too Short, and Cypress Hill. I was strictly Westside. I then moved out to the east coast for college, which is when the Notorious B.I.G, Nas, Mobb Deep, KRS-One, Wu-Tang, and Tribe Called Quest all started making noise. It was a glorious time. In addition, I was exposed to the Beastie Boys, De La Soul, and the OGs like Grandmaster Flash and Run D.M.C. West coast boy and east coast music melded together beautifully, even with all that stupid drama back then. Anyways, the world was all about West Coast vs East Coast, but then Andre 3000 came onto the scene with his southern funk and swag. It was fantabulous. I always admired Andre 3000 because he adapted, changed, and was diverse, as he was not just a music star, but became an actor and fashion entrepreneur. That’s how I think about Andre Drummond. When he started get full run in the NBA, he was a straight beast. Accumulating double-dubs (points and rebounds) and provding those D stats. But the free throw shooting was worse than atrocious and dimes? Fuhgeddaboudit. He improved in both categories, though, last season. Upping his free throw shooting to 60%, after languishing in the 38% range, and the assist number vaulted up to 3, after being around the 1 mark. Outlier? Possibly, but at least he’s shown that it’s within the range of outcomes. As for last night…..

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 22 0 0 1 5 0 11/17 4/6

Andre 2622.

Beep….Boop….Bop. By the way, the Stocktonator loved him last night, as it had Dre as the fifth best play on the slate.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Heading into the offseason, it was clear that the Magic were in desperate need of a playmaker. As a result, many draft analysts, myself included, were anticipating that the Magic were going to select Trae Young with the 6th overall pick in the draft. The unexpected happened instead, as the Mavericks traded up to select Luka Doncic while the Hawks selected Trae Young at number five, leaving the Magic with the decision to take the best player available on their board or select based on need, which would have been one of the point guards in Collin Sexton or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Magic chose the former, but in doing so left a big hole at the point guard position and added to a crowded front-court that already consisted of arguably their three most talented players in Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and potential breakout star Jonathan Isaac, the 5th overall pick in 2017. Common sense suggests that it is likely that the Magic will explore the trade market throughout the season, potentially dangling Vucevic to address the need at point guard. Without strengthening the back court and given the inexperienced level of the team, another season missing the playoffs in the desecrated East division seems likely.

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My Charlotte Bobcats fandom reached it’s peak during the 2006-2007 NBA season. My Bulls had been one of the worst teams in the NBA for nearly a decade and I liked cheering for the recent expansion team. I had NBA League Pass back then, since I was providing live box scores for a website more nights than not. The Bobcats weren’t one of the in-demand teams to cover, so I got to do a lot of their games. While the Bulls had just drafted LaMarcus Aldridge at #2 and traded him for #4 Tyrus Thomas and Victor Khryapa (yes, that happened), the Bobcats selected one of my favorite players right between those picks to join forces with other favorites Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor. That’s right, Adam Morrison was going to light up my tiny 19-inch box TV that sat beside my giant desktop computer as he turned (yes, people thought this) into Larry Bird 2.0! It was going to be fun watching this franchise, in just it’s third year, develop into a contender with those pieces.

Check it out! That weird, slippery ball they used briefly!

Okay, so the ‘Cats never really went anywhere, though Morrison did have some fun 3-point shooting streaks. I still love the snubbed and rightful 2012 Las Vegas NBA Summer League MVP and two-time NBA Champ (true). And, I still wear my Bobcats hat proudly (also true). Why am I going on and on about a player who only played in 161 career games and was out of the NBA four years after he was drafted? Because, he’s the theme of today’s strategy: The ‘Stache! I guess it’s The Stash, but at least I got to talk about Adam Morrison and Victor Khryapa.

This is a good time to stock up on and stash the players that might take off toward the end of the season and lead you to a championship.

Please, blog, may I have some more?